HONG KONG • Beijing has expanded the scope of draft national security legislation to include organisations as well as individuals, media reported yesterday, a move that is likely to exacerbate concerns over freedoms in the financial hub.
The news comes after Beijing last week proposed national security laws that drew a swift rebuke from international rights groups and Western governments, with the United States branding it a “death knell” for Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The law was being revised to cover not just behaviour or acts that endanger national security, but also activities, local broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) and the South China Morning Post reported.
“Mainland lawyers who have handled national security cases in the past say this change could bring not just individuals, but also organisations under the scope of the law,” RTHK said.
The security legislation could pave the way for mainland security agencies to open up branches in Hong Kong.
It targets secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference – terms that are increasingly used by the authorities to describe last year’s pro-democracy protests.
The proposed law has revived mass protests by demonstrators, who say China aims to curb the freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong under a “one country, two systems” framework valid for at least 50 years from the 1997 handover from British rule.
The authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong insist there is no threat to the city’s freedoms.